PROFILE: Bobby Benjamin | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Hannah Hawins

Teesside artist Bobby Benjamin will present a new solo exhibition, entitled Blood, Sweat N Tees, at Disgraceland in Middlesbrough from Friday 16th until Friday 23rd March.

Bobby’s no stranger to unusual exhibition spaces – having previously exhibited his work in a post office, a brothel and a car park – and the newly repurposed vintage clothing store-turned project space presents a unique set of challenges. Bobby’s emphatic that the work within Blood, Sweat N Tees will interact with the exhibition space, rather than merely occupying it. “My work is site specific. Making and installing are all part of the same process for me. Each piece I exhibit can only ever be complete in its given space. To uninstall the work is to destroy it. Disgraceland has its own character, its own charm. Rather than strip that back I wanted to build into it. I want the viewer to feel like they’re still in Disgraceland but that maybe someone has slipped something in their drink.”

Bobby’s sculptural work takes the form of molten plastic pulp hewn from chemical recycling techniques he learned while taking a night job at a recycling plant. “My ‘no-budget’ approach to making means that I am constantly re-using or re-imagining materials.” And his inspiration is firmly rooted in the environment around him. “People look at the area I’m from and see row after row of rotten teeth houses, left to decay. I walk the same streets and feel inspired. There is a resilience here that I wanted to capture in this show. I live in an area where poverty, mental illness and substance abuse affect many, where the suicide rate is 70% higher than the national average, where the only options seem to be apathy or falling apart. These are all problems that have directly affected me and are impossible to separate from my work because every aspect of its creation is dictated by these struggles. If I feel side-lined in society, rejected by my government yet try to remain robust, then I want to find a material which embodies this, like the waste plastic.”

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